Thanksgiving Dinner and Your Pet

Posted on November 16, 2010 under Pet Health & Safety

A tasty Thanksgiving dinner could be bad for pet health.By Chryssa Rich, a Marketing Associate for Pets Best, a pet insurance agency for dogs and cats

Our 16 year-old dog Hunter is so old he needs help getting on the couch or into a car. But somehow, he’s as agile as a puppy when the family gathers at the dining room table for a big meal. He strategically navigates the chair legs and places himself at our feet to catch what we drop. I’m pretty sure Thanksgiving is his favorite holiday.

Although table scraps may not be good for pet health as a whole, some can be far worse. So before you sit down for this year’s big feast, take a look at which parts of Thanksgiving dinner our pets can enjoy with us, and which they should stay away from, from a pet insurance company’s point of view.

Turkey: Cats and dogs both love turkey, and it’s good for them. In fact, some homemade pet food diets include as much as 75% turkey. Go ahead and share a small piece of lean meat, but don’t give them skin or bones. Turkey skin is high in fat and sodium and can cause digestive issues and choking, and bones can splinter and cause serious pet health problems.

Stuffing: Stuffing is mostly bread, salt and fat, so it won’t offer any real nutritional value or crunch satisfaction for your pets. Go ahead and eat it all yourself.

Green Bean Casserole: Fido and Fluffy will have to skip this classic side dish. Onions can be toxic to dogs, and neither should have dairy, as it can cause diarrhea. However, raw green beans are good for them, so feel free to “accidentally” drop a couple of fresh bean bites on the kitchen floor while you’re preparing the meal.

Sweet Potato Casserole: This is another side dish your pets will have to enjoy before it reaches the dining room table. Prepared traditionally with marshmallows and brown sugar, sweet potato casserole is a bad idea for your pets. Instead, offer the occasional slice of raw sweet potato as a treat. Both will find it satisfying to chew on.

Cranberry Sauce: If you’ve ever watched a dog try to eat Jello, you can imagine why cranberry sauce or jelly might not be the best treat for yours. And it’s not likely a cat would take to the tart stuff, so you can skip trying to share this one. (They’ll be too busy bugging you for more turkey, anyway.) About 1/3 of pet food manufacturers currently use cranberries in their recipes, but the pet health benefits haven’t yet been proven.

Pumpkin Pie: Admit it; you don’t want to share your dessert with anyone. But just in case pleading eyes beg for a bite, you should know the truth about pie: it’s delicious, and it’s just for humans. The high fat content of the crust, plus the spices, sugar and dairy in the filling could cause digestive issues in pets. (If you let kitty lick a little ice cream or whipped cream, I won’t tell.) Canned natural pumpkin is good for cats and dogs, though, and small amounts mixed in with their regular food can help regulate the digestive system.

Holiday Hazards Happen to Pets

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When all is said and done, you can relax on Thanksgiving knowing that nothing in the traditional spread will likely cause serious pet health issues. Keep human food out of your pets’ reach, go easy on the treats and table scraps, and enjoy a lazy nap on the couch next to the fireplace after the big meal. I hear cats love football.